The El Yunque National Park, Vieques Island, And The Bioluminescent Bay In Puerto Rico


Today we went horseback riding and hiking in the El Yunque National Park

We enjoyed a nice long horseback ride in the El Yunque National Forest. This forest is located in northeastern Puerto Rico, and is the only tropical rain forest in the United States National Forest System. There is no distinct wet or dry season in El Yunque, it just rains all year long.

Our guide showed us small rocks we found on the river's edge would make different colors when they were rubbed on our faces. We dipped our fingers into the mud and smeared it on our cheeks. We were amazed at the different colors on our faces. He explained that’s the way Indians made their face paints.

If you want to see the beautiful El Yunque National Park, I would recommend you take a horseback ride.
If you want to see the beautiful El Yunque National Park, I would recommend you take a horseback ride. | Source

A Beautiful Video Tour Of The El Yunque National Park, Puerto Rico

We stop at the river's edge long enough to smear mud from the rocks in the river on our faces.  We looked just like the Indians looked with their face paint on because of the colors on the rocks.
We stop at the river's edge long enough to smear mud from the rocks in the river on our faces. We looked just like the Indians looked with their face paint on because of the colors on the rocks. | Source

Headed To The Island Of Vieques

This is a view of the Island of Vieques from our ferry boat.
This is a view of the Island of Vieques from our ferry boat. | Source

The Island of Vieques

The Town On The Island Of Vieques

This is a view of the town on the Island of Vieques as seen from our ferry boat.
This is a view of the town on the Island of Vieques as seen from our ferry boat. | Source

The Bus That Took Us To Bioluminescent Bay

A lot of the buses we saw in Puerto Rica are old school buses brought there from the United States and painted.
A lot of the buses we saw in Puerto Rica are old school buses brought there from the United States and painted. | Source

We Go To The Island Of Vieques


We booked a tour to take us to the island of Vieques. Vieques lies about eight miles East of the Puerto Rican mainland. It is about 21 miles long by four miles wide. We will visit the Bioluminescent Bay. 10,000 people live on this island. Today, this island is a national wildlife refuge. The beaches are listed among the top beaches in the Caribbean because of the azure colored waters and beautiful white sand.

The tour company picked us at the hotel at 2:00 p.m., and we drove about an hour before arriving at the marina where a ferry took us to the Island of Vieques.

We were then driven to a restaurant on a van where we enjoyed a typical Puerto Rican dinner. After dinner, we boarded an old rickety bus to reach the Bioluminescent Bay. There are quaint little houses and inns all along the road.

About 10 wild horses ran alongside the van. They were not afraid of the van at all. A group of them stood in the road, and our driver had to wait for them to move on this narrow dirt, bumpy road for another 10 miles or so. I was curious as to how wild horses arrived on the island of Vieques, but no one could tell me!

A lovely sunset over the Island of Vieques
A lovely sunset over the Island of Vieques | Source

What Makes The Bioluminescent Bay So Special


In essence, a bioluminescent bay (or biobay) is a rare and fragile ecosystem. There is bioluminescence all over the world, but few places classify as a biobay. Biobays are formed by microscopic single-cell organisms called dinoflagellates (pyrodinium bahamense, if you want to get technical). When these little guys get agitated (i.e. when any object in the water comes splashing through), they release energy in the form of light. That is, they glow. And when they glow, so does anything that comes in contact with them, like fish, the oars of a canoe, or people.

There are many reasons why this Bay is one of the most bioluminescent bays in the world. The bay has a very narrow opening to the sea, which offers excellent protection from winds and tides and lets the dinoflagellates thrive in a calm environment. There are over 700,000 of the organisms per gallon of water; no other biobay comes close to this concentration. Also, the mangroves here are a vital source of nutrients for the organisms, and the temperate climate helps.

At one time, tourists were encouraged to jump into the water and they would literally glow in the dark, as the dinoflagellates spark into action whenever they come into contact with swimmers. It used to be a breathtaking experience, but now conservationists are beginning to exercise caution. They now believe the oil from a human skin can harm these tiny creatures. Even if you can't go swimming, though, you will see darting fish appearing like streaks of lightning when the oars of the canoe dips into the water and comes out dripping neon green. Your hand will glow bright green when you dip it in the water. It's a beautiful, ethereal experience, and one you won't forget.

If you can, try to go when it's a new moon. (In fact, tour operators may not even offer a tour during the full moon, because the effect is so diminished.) A black night dotted with stars makes for ideal conditions. And if it starts raining, don't curse your luck. The raindrops on the water will look like emeralds skipping along the surface.

It was a clear moonless night when we were there, and the stars were beautiful. We were directed to look at the rear of the boat where the propellers churned the water, and sure enough, the water fluoresced. The tour guides filled a bucket of water, and we put our hands into the water and stirred up the water. Then they had several volunteers stand on the back of the boat and they poured water over their bodies. Sure enough, their bodies glowed in the dark.


An Update About the Bioluminescence Bay

The Bay has astonished and thrilled thousands of tourists just to see the water in this bay radiate like a "glow stick" at night. In January of 2014, the shimmering microscopic plankton (dinoflagellates) just stopped!

This has alarmed government officials, scientists, and the islanders who depend on tourism. One tour operator has already shut down. This has happened before, but never more than a few days. Visits to the Bay are now limited to the weekends only.

No one knows if and when the Bay will ever come back to full strength. There are many theories as to why this has occurred. The latest theory is that a wind shift, OR sediment from the long rutted dirt road that leads vehicles to the Bay has caused damage, OR just too many visitors!

Puerto Rico's Department of Natural Resources has now formed a task force to study and monitor the bay. The bay has always been popular with kayakers, but that has now been curtailed, and only licensed operators can bring them.

Other strict measures are being put in place. Park Rangers now count the number of people who visit the bay. The dirt road is being improved.

A Good Video Of The Bioluminescent Bay

National Geographic's: Bioluminescense On Camera


Even though we were not allowed to get into the water, we really enjoyed seeing the Bioluminescent Bay. It was truly a wonder to see. When you go to Puerto Rico, don't miss this tour, you will be glad you did!

I am so glad I had the opportunity of seeing this wonderful sight. I am hoping the Bay will restore itself so other people can see this wonder.



These are more Hubs I have written about the Enchanted Island of Puerto Rico:

Would you like to visit Puerto Rico?

See results without voting
show route and directions
A markersan juan puerto rico -
San Juan, Puerto Rico
[get directions]

B markerel yunque national forest puerto rico -
El Yunque National Forest, Río Grande 00745, Puerto Rico
[get directions]

C markervieques island -
Vieques
[get directions]

© 2012 Mary Hyatt

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Comments 56 comments

Peggy W profile image

Peggy W 4 years ago from Houston, Texas

Hi Mary,

Just another beautiful day in paradise! Despite not being able to swim in the Bioluminescent Bay...your trip was filled with beautiful and unusual sites. Seeing wild horses must have been a thrill! That video of the El Yunque National Park was nice to see for those of us who have never been to Puerto Rico. Your photos added to the overall enjoyment of this hub. Thanks! Voted up, useful, beautiful and interesting and will share.


mary615 profile image

mary615 4 years ago from Florida Author

Hi, Peggy W. Yes we were really disappointed not to be able to get into the water at the Bioluminescent Bay. All their ads said we could. Just seeing these amazing creatures in a bucket and on our bodies was a thrill, though. Thanks for the compliment on my photos and the Hub itself.

I do appreciate the votes and the shares, too!

My best to you, friend.


Pamela-anne profile image

Pamela-anne 4 years ago from Kitchener, Ontario

Sounds like a wonderful trip seeing the wild horses must have been amazing; I bought a lazer light for my friend for her birthday to use at her cottage thanks for sharing. take care pam.


mary615 profile image

mary615 4 years ago from Florida Author

Hi, Pamela-anne. Thanks for reading my vacation in Puerto Rico. This was an amazing trip and seeing the wild horses was such a bonus. We didn't expect there to be so many!

Those lazer lights are great.

My best, Mary


kumar24894 4 years ago from Fuck of HUBPAGES

Wow ! Horse-riding. This place looks awesome, and seems you enjoyed it a lot. Great hub. Drinking that water of the river did not caused anything ?


mary615 profile image

mary615 4 years ago from Florida Author

Hi, kumar12894, thanks for reading my Day Two of my vacation in Puerto Rico. Yes, it was so much fun to do all this. I can't wait to go back!

Hope to see you again.


Lord De Cross profile image

Lord De Cross 4 years ago

Hi Mary,

This was so amazing. El Yunque National Park and Vieques Island's Bioluminescent Bay were impressive. How can we destroy nature, when nature is there for us? Nice horse riding and looks like everything was schedule to give you the most fun ever. This is getting better than the wine from San Juan..Lol! Thanks Mary, did enjoyed the virtual ride. The videos on bioluminiscense are right on!


Docmo profile image

Docmo 4 years ago from UK

Mary - this is an outstandingly beautiful hub that looks, reads and feels good. The holiday sounds sensational. Its gone right onto my list of places to travel. I am especially taken by bioluminescent bay I wrote a hub on the subject ' animals that glow: the science of bioluminescence' some time ago and it has continued to be popular- i'll have to add this destination to that. Voted up/ beautiful and totally awesome.


writer20 profile image

writer20 4 years ago from Southern Nevada

Great write up of your vacation. You really took amazing photo's and made the island look good.

Voted up beautiful and interesting, Joyce.


mary615 profile image

mary615 4 years ago from Florida Author

Hi, lord. Thanks for coming along with us on Day Two of our vacation in Puerto Rico. Since you speak Spanish, you would fit right in. Yes that Bioluminscent Bay was truly a wonder even if we couldn't get into the water! Hope you have some time to come with us on Day Three, more excitement!


mary615 profile image

mary615 4 years ago from Florida Author

Hi Joyce, The island of Puerto Rico is truly a spectacular place. It's a wonder from coast to coast, I think.

Thanks for the votes, I appreciate that.

My best, Mary


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 4 years ago from England

What a beautiful place, it sounds like you had a wonderful time, I would have loved to go riding, I haven't done it for so long, thanks for sharing such a lovely vacation, nell


mary615 profile image

mary615 4 years ago from Florida Author

Hi Docmo, thanks so much for reading and for the nice compliment on my Hub about vacationing in Puerto Rico.

You know, I made myself a note after I read your Hub on Bioluminescense when you first published it to link to it when I wrote my vacation Hub, and I just forgot. I remember what a wonderful Hub you wrote. The photos you used were outstanding. May I link that Hub into this one? Thanks in advance.

Thanks for the votes


mary615 profile image

mary615 4 years ago from Florida Author

Hi Nell Rose, yes, it truly was a wonderful vacation. One I'll never forget. I loved sharing it with my two beautiful daughters, too.

Thanks for taking the time to read and comment.


AliciaC profile image

AliciaC 4 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

This is a beautiful hub, Mary, and the videos are lovely - especially the ones about bioluminescence. I'm glad that you got to visit Bioluminescent Bay, even though it must have been very disappointing to be unable to enter the water. I'm enjoying your hubs about your trip to Puerto Rico very much. Thanks for linking to my hub - I'm going to link to yours now.


mary615 profile image

mary615 4 years ago from Florida Author

Hi, AliciaC Thanks for the nice compliment on my Hub about our vacation in Puerto Rico. Yes, it was disappointing not to be able to get into the water at the Bioluminescent Bay. I enjoyed looking at the stars and having them all explained so well by the guide.

I'm so happy you are enjoying my vacation and are coming along with me and two of my daughters.

Thanks for linking to me.....


Docmo profile image

Docmo 4 years ago from UK

Mary many thanks for the link. I am linking this one in my hub too. Much appreciated.


DeborahNeyens profile image

DeborahNeyens 4 years ago from Iowa

After a day spent hiking in the pouring rain in El Yunque, I began to appreciate why it's called a "rain forest." Great article. I am enjoying reliving my trip to Puerto Rico by reading about yours.


drbj profile image

drbj 4 years ago from south Florida

Okay, mary, so you didn't get to glow in the dark! What if you had dipped in that bioluminescence and it wouldn't come off? Huh? Huh?

Happy your daughters enjoyed their visit to El Yunque rainforest which is often a highlight of any P.R. tour. Also happy you got something nourishing to eat for lunch! :)


mary615 profile image

mary615 4 years ago from Florida Author

Hi, DeborahNeyens, so glad you went hiking with the girls on this day in the El Yunque rain forest. I'm glad you are "reliving" your trip to Puerto Rico. Hope you loved that place as much as I do.

Tomorrow we get on a 62 ft. catamaran and sail to two island.

Hope you can follow along.

Thanks so much for reading and commenting.


mary615 profile image

mary615 4 years ago from Florida Author

Hi there drbj. Oh, what an experience! We were disappointed not to be able to get into the water, though. Hey, if those little creatures wouldn't wash off, I'd glow in the dark!

So happy you are coming along with us on our vacation in Puerto Rico.

Bye for now....


Glenn Stok profile image

Glenn Stok 4 years ago from Long Island, NY

Mary, This is very informative about Puerto Rico and and the pictures are enjoyable to see as well. You have made me feel almost as if I am there. I never had visited this interesting place but after reading your Hub I want to include it on my bucket list.


mary615 profile image

mary615 4 years ago from Florida Author

Good Morning, Glenn. Thanks so much for reading and commenting on my vacation in Puerto Rico. If you have never been there, please do go! You won't be sorry. I've been there three times, and look forward to going again.

I hope you have a wonderful day!


DeborahNeyens profile image

DeborahNeyens 4 years ago from Iowa

Mary, I loved hiking in the rainforest and especially playing in the waterfalls. We would hike every morning and then go to the beach in the afternoon and look back up at the mountains we had just climbed. El Yunque was my favorite part of Puerto Rico.


mary615 profile image

mary615 4 years ago from Florida Author

Hi, DeborahNeyens, It sounds like you had a fantastic time in Puerto Rico! You and I seem to have visited the same places! It is truly a beautiful country, full of natural wonders like the El Yunque.

See you again, soon, I hope.


teaches12345 profile image

teaches12345 4 years ago

I loved your tour of El Yunque and the videos. I would have loved to have gone on the horseback trial. You are so fortunate and blessed to have had this experience.


mary615 profile image

mary615 4 years ago from Florida Author

Hi, teaches12345. Thanks for reading and commenting on my vacation in Puerto Rico and the El Yunque Park. Yes, that was a lovely ride through the rain forest.

I've been to PR several times now and I love it more each time I go.

Goodnight, Mary


wheelinallover profile image

wheelinallover 4 years ago from Central United States

Thanks for the visual vacation. The body might not be willing however the mind enjoys the beauty of the world. I love horses and riding, have since I was a teen. Glad you had a great vacation. Sharing on twitter and in our group "Optimization land."


mary615 profile image

mary615 4 years ago from Florida Author

Good Morning, wheelinallover. So nice to see you today! I know of your love for horses and riding, and you would have loved this trip on horseback in El Yunque National Park.

Yes, we had a wonderful vacation (there's more to come!)

Thanks for the share, I appreciate that.

BTW: Did you ever read my Hub on the American Quarter Horse?

Have a wonderful day wheeling all over the place!


tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 4 years ago from New York

Following your hubs tells me you're having one glorious day after another! The photos are beautiful and your descriptions so inviting. You could probably get a job at the Puerto Rico Tourism Office!

Voted up, beautiful and interesting.


mary615 profile image

mary615 4 years ago from Florida Author

Yes, tillsontitan, we really did have one wonderful after the other. I was sorry when our vacation had to end. I've gone back a couple of times, one time I went all by myself!

I probably could get a job at the Puerto Rico Tourism Office as their spokesperson! I love Puerto Rico!

Thanks for the vote.

My best, Mary


ishwaryaa22 profile image

ishwaryaa22 4 years ago from Chennai, India

After reading Docmo's informative hub, I saw your hub linked to his hub and decided to come over to read your hub. I enjoyed reading your hub from the beginning to the end. Puerto Rico sounds very adventurous and amazing. Your description of your experience in the bioluminescent bay is beautiful. I would like to visit such similar spots in the near future. An engaging hub! Well-done!

Thanks for SHARING. Useful & Awesome. Voted up & Socially Shared


bridalletter profile image

bridalletter 4 years ago from Blue Springs, Missouri, USA

It's like a mini vacation for all of us. It would be amazing to visit. Did you feel pretty safe and comfortable there? Any areas you avoided.


ignugent17 profile image

ignugent17 4 years ago

This is an awesome place mary615. It must be very beautiful when you were under a clear moonless sky and enjoyed the twinkling stars. Enjoyed your hub ang pictures too. Thanks.


mary615 profile image

mary615 4 years ago from Florida Author

Hi, Ish. So nice to see you today! Thanks for reading and commenting on my Hub about the bioluminescent bay . Puerto Rico has so many wonderful places to see. It is truly a beautiful island. I hope someday you will visit this Enchanted Island.

Thanks so much for the votes and the share, Mary


mary615 profile image

mary615 4 years ago from Florida Author

Hi, bridalletter, Puerto Rico is truly an amazing island. I felt very safe there. The Hub I wrote about traveling solo in PR will assure you of that. The people are gracious and friendly. Like any big city like New York for instance, I wouldn't go downtown San Juan at night alone.

Thanks for reading and commenting, Mary


mary615 profile image

mary615 4 years ago from Florida Author

Hi, ignugent17. Oh, yes, this is truly an awesome place. Like all the other areas we visited in Puerto Rico, it was a wonderful experience.

Thanks for the nice compliment on my Hub. Mary


mary615 profile image

mary615 4 years ago from Florida Author

Just saw this, Lord. Thanks for sharing!


Vinaya Ghimire profile image

Vinaya Ghimire 4 years ago from Nepal

Mary,

Horse ride is a wonderful experience, it gives you a sense of power and a deep connection with the beast. Puerto Rico looks a wonderful place to visit.


mary615 profile image

mary615 4 years ago from Florida Author

Hi, Vinaya. Puerto Rico is a wonderful place to visit. I'm looking forward to returning this next winter. I love that place!

We ride horses here, but the scenery isn't half as beautiful as PR.

Thanks for reading and commenting, Mary


jenbeach21 profile image

jenbeach21 4 years ago from Orlando, FL

Very beautiful. I was there last May and did the zip lining in El Yunque and we went to Vieques but weren't able to see the bioluminescent bay. One of the best vacations my husband and I had!


mary615 profile image

mary615 4 years ago from Florida Author

Hi, jenbeach21. So glad you found this area of Puerto Rico beautiful. You were brave to do the zip lining! We were disappointed in the bay because we couldn't get into the water, but it was beautiful out there looking at the stars.

I'd sure like to go back to Puerto Rico. I'm glad you had a good vacation there.

Thanks for reading and commenting, Mary


DeborahNeyens profile image

DeborahNeyens 3 years ago from Iowa

Still love this hub!


mary615 profile image

mary615 3 years ago from Florida Author

Hi there, DeborahNeyens. Thanks so much for rereading this. I remember you like Puerto Rico, too. I'd sure like to go back one day. When I look at these photos from our vacation, I really want to go back and enjoy that beautiful blue water! Mary


CloudExplorer profile image

CloudExplorer 3 years ago from New York City

Awesome Hub Mary, I been to the great Mountain there when I was in the US Navy many years back. We had went on a mission at Rosey Roads US Naval Base there. It was such a cool experience to tour there and visit the awesome forest area, and I went up that cool castle thingy they had there too :) It was so much fun, caught some cool images as well.

Thanks for sharing your voyage and great adventure out there as well as some cool video footage. Nice! sharing this hub will be my pleasure to do. Have a happy Thanksgiving, and holiday time.


mary615 profile image

mary615 3 years ago from Florida Author

Hi, CloudExplorer. I'm happy you enjoyed reading my Hub. I just loved Puerto Rico and want to return there one day. I fact, I've thought of moving there!

Thanks so much for reading and sharing.

I hope you and yours will have a happy Thanksgiving, too.

My best, Mary


Peggy W profile image

Peggy W 2 years ago from Houston, Texas

Hi Mary,

I came back to this wonderful hub of yours to read again and this time share all across. Will even start a Puerto Rico board on Pinterest since you have so many good hubs regarding that subject. You have certainly had some fun times spent there!


mary615 profile image

mary615 2 years ago from Florida Author

Hi, Peggy, Thanks so much for rereading my Hub. I really appreciate you taking the time and effort to make a Puerto Rico board on Pintererest.

I am looking forward to returning as soon as possible. I did go back solo after this trip with the daughters and stayed for a week. I love Puerto Rico!

Thanks again, my best, Mary


ananceleste profile image

ananceleste 2 years ago from California

What a treat! It's been over six years since I left Puerto Rico. I miss the beaches, the food, the music but most of all the breath taking scenery. I am planning to go back with my son when he graduates HS for a well deserved vacation. Home is where the heart is, and left mine in the shores of San Juan. Blessings.


mary615 profile image

mary615 2 years ago from Florida Author

Oh, I just loved Puerto Rico! I thought seriously about living there full time, but I have too many ties to my home (children, grandchildren, etc.) I fell in love with everything about PR.

I'm glad you can return to PR with your son, Mary


AudreyHowitt profile image

AudreyHowitt 2 years ago from California

Very cool! I bet this is a wonderful place to visit!


mary615 profile image

mary615 2 years ago from Florida Author

Hi AudreyHowitt Yes, the entire island of Puerto Rico is a wonderful place to visit. I went back after this trip alone, and had a wonderful time.

Thanks for reading and commenting, Mary


Vellur profile image

Vellur 2 years ago from Dubai

Wonderful trip, enjoyed reading. Bioluminescent Bay must have been really cool to see. Great hub.


mary615 profile image

mary615 2 years ago from Florida Author

Puerto Rico has something to offer for everyone! Yes, this was a highlight of our trip to PR. Thanks for reading and commenting, Mary


tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 2 years ago from New York

Stopped back to revisit your wonderful trip and photos!


mary615 profile image

mary615 2 years ago from Florida Author

Hi there, tillsontitan So nice to see you, and thanks for the revisit to my Hub is is part of our trip to Puerto Rico!

I'd sure like to go back and revisit this beautiful island.

My best, Mary

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